Since the beginning of the pandemic, the world has become much better acquainted with the term ‘flexible working’. However, this phrase doesn’t only relate to working in a way that fits around your lifestyle. For many people with long-term conditions, flexible working is the key to establishing a sustainable and inclusive career. Flexible working adjustments are often simple for employers to introduce, but can lead to great results for both individuals and forward-thinking organisations.
Here are five key ways that flexible working arrangements can empower people with long-term conditions…
Flexible Working Overcomes The Barriers People With Long-Term Illnesses Face When Entering Work
For many people managing a chronic illness or Energy Limiting Condition, one of the biggest barriers they face when trying to enter work is a lack of suitable opportunities to apply for. A traditional 9-5 role in a physical workplace isn’t inclusive for everybody, and many people are specifically looking for reduced hours and/or flexible roles. Research by Astriid in 2021 found that flexible working was by-far the most frequently searched-for adjustment when survey participants were seeking roles to apply for.
Even if the role in question hasn’t been designed with those adjustments in mind, stipulating that flexible working is possible and that your organisation takes a proactive approach in this area may encourage talented people with long-term conditions to apply, and take that first step towards finding meaningful work.
Flexible Working Optimises Productivity at Work
Every individual works differently, and we know better than anybody else what working patterns will allow us to perform at our best. Productivity means different things for different people, but giving employees the flexibility to work in a way and at a time that feels right to them can have immensely positive results.
Not only are people more likely to perform better and accomplish more within their working hours, they’re also likely to report more happiness and job satisfaction at the same time. According to research reported by the CIPD, 9 in 10 employees consider flexible working to be a key motivator to their productivity at work – in fact, 77% of participants even reported that flexible working was a greater motivator than even financial incentives.
Flexible Working Enables People To Manage Their Health Conditions And/Or Treatment Plans Around Working Life
Managing a long-term illness can feel like a full-time job. Those affected have to carefully manage their daily activities and factor in time for ‘illness admin’ – medical appointments, treatment plans, even keeping on top of medication organisation. These things simply cannot be pushed aside or de-prioritised if somebody wants to maintain a career over the longer-term.
Flexible working means that a person’s job can fit around their ‘illness admin’, and the two things can co-exist. Individuals with long-term conditions are often highly organised, meaning they can arrange their time and energy in a way that accommodates both their condition management and the tasks of their working day. This means they can give their best to their work while maintaining the care they require. Through our work with Astriid candidates, individuals with long-term conditions who are seeking work, we have seen first-hand how important this factor is. Individuals who are in inflexible roles where they are unable to accommodate their condition management while in work experience detrimental effects, while those who can work flexibly around their condition are hugely empowered by this experience.
Flexible Working Enables Employees To Remain In Work For Longer When They Acquire A Long Term Condition
Nobody is immune from developing a long-term condition. If you’re managing a workforce, of any size and in any industry, the chances are that somebody on your team will become disabled or develop a long-term condition. This isn’t something to fear, and unlike attitudes of the past, this doesn’t immediately discount that person from being a valuable member of your team.
If flexible working has already been established in your workplace, you’ll be able to make simple but effective adjustments that allow for employee retention, even as individuals begin their journey with a long-term condition. In doing so, the individual affected can maintain a sense of identity and normality by remaining part of the organisation, and you won’t have to contend with the challenges of losing and/or replacing a skilled member of the team.
Flexible Working Is The Key Ingredient Of A Better Work-Life Balance
There’s a very fine line between being passionate about your work, and letting work take over your whole life. This conflict particularly affects people with Energy Limiting Conditions, who often have to make sacrifices in their broader life to budget enough energy to remain in work. However, having a good work-life balance is crucial in ensuring a person’s job is sustainable and fulfilling over the longer-term.
By giving people the opportunity to work flexibly, you are enabling them to explore ways of doing things that give them a much better work-life balance. People can figure out where work fits most naturally into their life, and how they can give their very best to the role without making compromises in other areas that are important to their happiness. Research by Deloitte, reported by Go Remotely, states that companies that promote good work-life balance record two-times more productivity than companies who do not. The better a person’s work-life balance, the more likely they are to be satisfied in their role. And the more satisfied they are in their role, the better their work performance will be.
These are just some of the many ways that flexible working arrangements can empower people with long-term conditions in work. If you’ve been encouraged to step up your own organisation’s flexible working practice, Astriid Consulting is here to help. Our bespoke eLearning Service walks you through the essentials of flexible working and the potential to remove barriers to work and, of course, can be completed online by you completely flexibly and at your own pace!
To find out more, visit our website or contact Catherine Hale, Head of Astriid Consulting, at [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you!